Joe Versus The Strawman

Joe Klein is frequently placed on television panels to show some balance, placing this supposedly liberal columnist to counter conservative pundits. Joe Klien tries to show he is not one of those “left-wing extremists” by attacking left as well as right. The question becomes who on the left he is really attacking.

Klein provides many points which he says describes a left-wing extremist. It it still isn’t clear who he is talking about. He avoids answering by saying, “It would be wildly stupid for me to get into a pissing match by naming names.” The problem is that the description he provides of a left-wing extremist doesn’t describe many real people, especially not those who matter. Some of the items on his list don’t have anything to do with ideology, such as “regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack moderates or conservatives.” Some people who are moderately left of center (as well as some who are right of center) use harsh and vulgar language. Others on the far left, and right, are very polite and clean in their writing. This has nothing to do whether they are an extremist.

What is particularly disturbing of this is that resorting to strawmen arguments is so typical of the right wing. Republicans try to run entire campaigns by distorting the positions of their opponenets and running against these strawmen rather than actually discussing the true areas of disagreement. For Klein to attack unspecified liberals by attributing these characteristics to them he simply plays into their hands. Klein sounds far too much like the conservatives who claim that liberals are unpatriotic, want the terrorists to win, or are socialists.

Update: Joe Klein’s Strawmen And The Generation Gap

Another Clinton Supporter Defects to Obama

The race really is underway. Going into 2007 the conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were strong front runners for their party’s nominations. While changes in position at this point mean little, Rudy Giuliani has slipped ahead of McCain for the GOP nomination for now. Hillary remains well ahead for the Democratic nomination, but Obama continues to show signs he might be able to make it a race. Robert Novak now reports another defection to Obama:

Greg Craig, a Washington super-lawyer with close ties to the Clintons, is supporting Sen. Barack Obama for President.

Craig was a White House special counsel defending President Bill Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial. A partner in the Williams & Connolly law firm founded by the legendary Edward Bennett Williams, Craig served as an adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

In confirming to this column his Presidential preference, Craig called Obama unique and added: “I’ve never seen anyone who has made the impact on people and on me.” He said he was impressed with Obama when he first met him at the home of investment banker Vernon Jordan, an intimate friend and supporter of the Clintons.

Of course all the usual disclaimers apply. Polls this far out have often had little predictive value. Even in tightly contested races, results in the first one or two contests can totally change the race, as we saw with John Kerry’s comeback victory in 2004. With so many states moving their primaries up in 2008 it is difficult to predict if wins in the first couple of contests will again be decisive, or if the increased early campaigning will give the victory to whoever has the strongest national campaign nation wide going into 2008 regardless of how the early small states vote.

Conservatives Denounce and Shun Ann Coulter For Edwards Remark

While Howard Dean has demanded that Republican candidates denounce Ann Coulter for her comments on John Edwards, many conservative bloggers are already doing so. Coulter said the following at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

“I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word “faggot,” so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

Ed Morrissey responded with:

Yeah, that’s just what CPAC needs — an association with homophobia. Nice work, Ann.

At some point, Republicans will need to get over their issues with homosexuality. Regardless of whether one believes it to be a choice or a hardwired response, it has little impact on anyone but the gay or lesbian person. We can argue that homosexuality doesn’t require legal protection, but not when we have our front-line activists referring to them as “faggots” or worse. That indicates a disturbing level of animosity rather than a true desire to allow people the same rights and protections regardless of their lifestyles.

The Confederate Yankee writes:

Ann Coulter is a verbal suicide bomber, willing to blow away her credibility and that of those around her for a few extra moments of infamy. Sooner or later, CPAC and other conservative and Republican groups are going to learn that Coulter is far more interested in promoting herself than any ideology they share…

Ann Coulter stopped being an asset for conservatives a long time ago. I think it is time we move on past her.


Peggy Noonan on The Decline of The Religious Right

As I suspect that Peggy Noonan isn’t high on the reading lists of readers here I thought I would repeat a paragraph from her op-ed on John McCain:

In 2000 he felt he could take on Christian conservative leaders in the South. Bad timing. In 2000 they were at the peak of their 20 years of power. Now their followers are tired and questioning after a generation of political activism. And many leaders seem compromised–dinged after all that time in the air. Mr. McCain could rebuke them now and thrive. Instead he decided to attempt to embrace them.

It does seem that the power of the religious right has weakened. Still we see McCain embracing them, Romney flip flopping to sound like one of them (even if they don’t accept his brand of religion) and Giuliani trying to convince them that their disagreements are trivial. I hope Noonan can convince Republicans that it is not necessary to embrace the religious right. Perhaps she is smart enough to realize that this is the only way the GOP can make a come back in the near future.

But They Didn’t Have WMD

So, the Swiss Army has invaded Liechtenstein, by accident.

No WMD or al Qaeda ties were found (or alleged).

Potty Mouthed Liberals Show Conservatives Are A Bunch of Damn Liars

I’ve been so busy this week debunking the dishonest conservative smears on Al Gore and their bogus claims that liberal bloggers were cheering on the Taliban for their attack on Dick Cheney that I never got around to taking a close look at another conservative claim going around this week. Some conservative bloggers have been claiming that this analysis shows that liberal bloggers are far more likely to use George Carlin’s famous seven words you could never say on television than conservative bloggers.

Initially most liberal bloggers I saw comment on this pretty much responded with “who cares?” Face it, who really cares who swears more when conservative bloggers have been so consistently wrong on everything that matters, from Iraq to civil liberties to health care to their denial of science on ideological grounds. Still, there’s no reason to let a conservative lie stand when it can easily be refuted.

Several liberal bloggers have repeated the analysis and, guess what, they found that the conservative numbers were way off. When Skippy repeated this analysis they found a pattern: “ishmael under-reports a conservative site by half, and over-reports our liberal site by 300%.” Acephalous and Kevin Drum also found faults with the conservative’s calculations.